Christian Bale (44) is widely praised for his role as former vice president Dick Cheney in the film ‘Vice’. He got a Golden Globe in the meantime and he also have the Oscar nomination. What is striking about his performance is of course the great transformation he underwent to resemble Cheney. But he is tired of that according to his own words. “It is too harmful for my body.”
For ‘Vice’ Bale had to get 44 kilos, and it is not the first time that he had to change his weight so drastically. Over the years, the actor, who is 1m83 tall, has already weighed between 55 and 90 kilos. Neither of the two extremes are healthy. In an interview with The Sunday Times he says that he will not look for such extremes any more. “Enough is enough”, it sounds. “I really cannot continue to do this any longer. I am face to face with my own mortality.”
He used to eat here and there a bit more when he had to recover, but for ‘Vice’ he consulted a doctor for the first time. “If I have to thicken anyway, I do it in as a healthy way as possible.”
His decision comes after years of transformations, for different films. Even though it is now over, his days as a ‘chameleon’ actor will remain in the memory for a long time.
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
In ‘Velvet Goldmine’, Bale played a film journalist who discovered his own identity as a homosexual man in the Bowie-inspired glam rock scene of the British 70s. The transformation was mainly due to his hairstyle and bright clothes, but the role also required a lean figure. “I mainly ate soup and got up at 6 o’clock in the morning to go running. When my mother came to stay for a day, she remarked, “Christian, what are you doing? You live much too healthy, they did not do that in the 70s either. Just the opposite. They ate almost nothing and drank a lot of alcohol. Maybe you should try that.” And well, that worked.”
American Psycho (2000)
In this horror film Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman. That character looked very well trained, so Bale also had to go into the gym like a madman. “Training took over my whole life”, he said in an interview. “I could not talk about anything more than about my physique, dieting, and fitness. It made me judge other people on the basis of their body and weight…” He weighed about 81 kilograms at that time. “I never ate sugar during that period, and only those that contained few calories.”
He also had caps put over his teeth to make them more even and attractive. “That was important for this character. Patrick completely dealt in the superficial. It was his greatest strength, his trademark. Everything had to be perfect, so also his teeth.”
The Machinist (2004)
Just wash down to four years later. For his role as Trevor Reznik in ‘The Machinist’ Bale hardly weighed anything. Reznik was a factory worker who loses his mind when he is fired after an accident in the workplace.
For a man of almost two meters long, a weight of 55 kilograms is anything but ideal. Christian had to lose a third (!) Of his normal body weight. He did so by not eating more than an apple and a can of tuna a day, supplemented with some black coffee.
“I did not think there was another way to look leaner. So, I started to lose weight until I had the impression that I had achieved the look needed for the film.” In the end, he weighed 9 kilograms less than the minimum weight recommended for his height by nutritionists.
Batman Begins (2005)
A year later he came into the picture for the first time as the well-known DC superhero Batman. Another role for which he had to grow the necessary muscles. He suddenly dropped from 55 kilos to 86 kilograms, and that did not happen overnight. “My metabolism had to recover, because my heart, for example, had become accustomed to a completely different way of life.” Bale returned to his normal weight by eating a lot of calories and stacked another 16 kilograms of muscle mass on top.
“I ignored good advice, I admit it. I was told that I had to take it easy, because my stomach had shrunk. It would have been better if I had just started to eat more soup for a while. But no, I immediately started the pizza and ice cream. I ate five meals a day. Yes, that made me feel very sick. I had to go to the doctor a few times, but all in all I did not mind.”
Rescue Dawn (2006)
And of course, it is not finished yet. In ‘Rescue Dawn’, Bale’s weight goes down again as an express train for his interpretation of Dieter Dengler. A soldier who weighed only 61 kilos when he was eventually rescued from the Vietnam War. He had to lose 29 kilos to get from his Batman weight to the ideal weight for this print.
The final scenes of the film, in which Dengler was the leanest, were first filmed. In this way Bale could immediately start again for his next role. He did that by eating real maggots during the shooting of the survival adventure… “They are high in protein, so everything helps”, he said then.
The Dark Knight (2008)
And once again arriving for Batman in ‘The Dark Knight’, the film where his colleague Heath Ledger won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ posthumously. Bale clocked again at 86 kilos, of which about 16 kilograms consisted of muscle mass. This time, however, he had a little more time to get to that weight, although many weightlifting sessions still took place.
The Fighter (2010)
For the role of Dicky Eklund, Bale won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor in a Supporter’. Dicky was once a promising boxer who became addicted to drugs. You hear it coming: Bale’s weight had to go down again. To 66 kilos to be precise. “I felt pretty healthy at the time,’ Bale said. “I often walked and could not lose too much, because then I would no longer be credible as a boxer.’
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Back to Batman. Bale has the whole trilogy of Christopher Nolan to his name. This time he went to 90 kilos, of which there were again about 20 of muscle mass.
American Hustle (2013)
The hairpiece was fake, the belly was completely Christian. For his role as David O. Russel in ‘American Hustle’ he weighed 84 kilos. “I ate a lot of donuts, cheeseburgers, and basically everything I could get”, he shrugged his method.
“I am getting older,” he noted. “When I started it, I said: I lost that weight within two months after the shooting. But no, it is no longer as easy as it used to be. Six months later it was still visible.”
His last striking transformation was that of ex-vice president Dick Cheney in ‘Vice’. “This time no cheeseburgers,” Christian concluded. “A nutritionist has helped me. Getting so much in a short time is never healthy, but I’ve done it in the healthiest way possible. I am already over 40 and I thought: eating cream cakes all day long is probably not good for my ticker.” Eventually he came to 18 kilos for the role.